Move over Mega Millions, it's time for Powerball.
One night after Mega Millions hit a $1.5 billion winner, Powerball's drawing came and went Wednesday without anybody matching all six numbers and the jackpot ballooned to an estimated $750 million — the third-largest in U.S. lottery history.
The winning numbers on Wednesday night: 3, 21, 45, 53, 56 and Powerball 22. The next drawing is Saturday night.
The estimated cash option, generally preferred by winners, is $428.6 million.
“It is an exciting time to be a lottery player,” said Powerball chief David Barden, who also serves as New Mexico Lottery CEO, adding that revenues from ticket sales "benefit great causes.”
In South Carolina, for example, the money goes to education. The run of big prizes has increased profits for such programs, and that run is not merely the luck of the draw. Powerball made winning more difficult two years ago. A year later Mega Millions dropped the odds of winning its grand prize.
Powerball last hit more than two months ago, when New Yorker Nandlall Mangal was the sole winner of $245.6 million.
Big jackpots draw attention, and fuel ticket sales. The unfathomable Mega Millions jackpot drew most of the attention in recent days, but Powerball's total has quietly reached the sixth largest jackpot in U.S. history. It's also the third largest Powerball total.
Mega Millions officials had forecast a U.S. record $1.6 billion prize, but ticket sales came in slightly below expectations. Mega Millions let the world know Wednesday on Twitter: "BREAKING: The final #MegaMillions winning jackpot amount is $1.537 BILLION! This means it does NOT break the largest jackpot record set by #Powerball!"
Powerball chimed in: "Still number #1 Get your tickets for tonight's #Powerball at http://powerball.net."
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.